MT. COMFORT — One thing Hancock County leaders aren’t speculating about is whether the area near Interstate 70 and Mt. Comfort Road is becoming a magnet for move-in-ready buildings.

A developer plans to add two more so-called spec buildings to the seven that others are planning for the area.

Local officials are encouraged by the interest being shown by developers, but they also wonder about the proliferation of warehouse-type structures and their impact on efforts to create better-paying jobs here.

In the latest development, San Francisco-based Prologis intends to invest $46 million in the buildings on a 78-acre property on the south side of County Road 300N immediately east of Tsuda USA Corp. The first building will be just more than 500,000 square feet and the second just more than 600,000 square feet.

Cody Riles, a vice president and market officer with Prologis’ Indianapolis office, briefed the Hancock County Council on the project this week.

“We’re seeing just tons of demand, as everybody is, for this type of facility,” Riles said.

Prologis plans to start the first building in April 2020 and finish by November or December of that year, he continued. The company will start on the second building after the first is leased.

“We’re excited about this site,” Riles said. “We feel like there’s a lot of opportunity in Hancock County.”

Prologis operates on four continents, is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and serves clients like BMW, Pepsi, Home Depot, Walmart, Amazon, FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

The county council unanimously approved a preliminary resolution outlining a 10-year tax abatement for the future buildings. The breaks will be 100 percent during their first year before gradually decreasing over the years that follow.

Prologis’ project is in a tax increment financing district, which the Hancock County Redevelopment Commission oversees. It also signed off on the abatement.

Discussion at a county redevelopment commission meeting this week partly focused on whether the current trend will leave the area saturated with warehouses. Such operations typically require fewer and lower-paid employees than industries that rely on similarly sized properties, like manufacturing.

But if Shear Property Group’s short wait for tenants is any indication, there’s a demand for warehousing, and the future spec buildings will likely draw tenants before or soon after they’re finished, officials also reasoned.

“Bottom line — they’re getting their tax bill, no matter what goes in there,” Hancock County Commissioner Brad Armstrong said. “You talk about $46 million (assessed value); that’s very positive.”

Expecting a factory with a big workforce to move into one of the spec spaces may not be the most conceivable outcome anyway, considering the county’s low unemployment rate, said Randy Sorrell, director of the Hancock Economic Development Council.

Indianapolis is seeing its share of speculative development as well. The Indianapolis Business Journal recently reported on studies indicating that of the city’s 43 projects under construction — totaling 13.4 million square feet — about 10.6 million square feet is on spec.
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